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    Badlands

    National Park South Dakota

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National Park Foundation and University of Phoenix Award Badlands Park Steward Grant to Engage Next Generation of National Park Stewards

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Date: July 22, 2013
Contact: National Park Foundation: Marjorie Hall, 202-354-6480
Contact: Badlands National Park: Julie Johndreau, 605-433-5242

The National Park Foundation (NPF), the official charity of America’s national parks, and University of Phoenix® announced that Badlands National Park is one of eighteen national parks to receive a 2013 Park Stewards program grant. Now in their second year of program sponsorship, the University provided $187,000 in program funding to the NPF to help high school teachers and their students across the country build a deeper connection and sense of stewardship for their national parks through curriculum and service learning projects. 

 “This innovative program provides critical support and access to teachers so that parks nationwide can be utilized as the living classrooms they are,” said Neil Mulholland, President and CEO of the National Park Foundation. “Through this unique collaboration, and subsequent development of rich, relevant curriculum, the Park Stewards teachers create a life-long connection to America’s national parks for their students.”

Badlands National Park is using the grant to develop stronger partnerships with teachers and students on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Two teachers recently completed five week residencies in the park, developing creative ways to connect park resources to their classrooms. Recognizing the importance of experiential education, the teachers intend to bring their students to the park to complete service-learning projects in the coming school year.  

This is an expansion of the Youth Camp initiative that began in 2011. Badlands recently released a video series that explores the impact of national parks in the lives of students who experience and learn from nature. The Park Stewards grant continues to fund this and other youth programming.

“Engaging local tribal youth is a critical component of the tribal national park that is proposed for the South Unit of Badlands,” said park superintendent Eric Brunnemann. “Someday these students will be the leaders in their communities and may even pursue careers in the National Park Service or partner agencies.” 

Since 2009, the Park Stewards program has made it possible for 88 high school teachers to work in parks over the summer break, creating curriculum that will then be taught to their students in the coming school year. During the summer, the teachers and park staff also develop service-learning projects that will be implemented by high school students throughout the course of the school year. The projects range from monitoring toxic mercury levels or water quality to repairing historic forts to creating digital park stories, and all tie to state academic standards and are meaningful to the national parks. The 2013 Park Stewards program will also select one student from each grantee school team for a summer internship to help support and build their interest in their national parks and the National Park Service.

“University of Phoenix is proud to once again support the National Park Foundation’s mission to enrich America’s national parks and programs by inspiring generations of national park enthusiasts,” said Pat Gottfried, vice president of Corporate Social Responsibility for Apollo Group, parent company of University of Phoenix. “University of Phoenix is committed to environmental stewardship in our operations, our sustainability-related degree programs and our environmental philanthropy, and we are glad to help reinforce this commitment through our support of the National Park Foundation and the teachers and students it impacts.”

For more information about the participating parks, please visit the National Park Foundation website. For more information on the work of the National Park Foundation or how you can support and protect America’s national parks, please visit www.nationalparks.org.

Apollo Group, parent company of University of Phoenix, is dedicated to being a good corporate citizen by serving communities and individuals across the country. Through its corporate social responsibility efforts, Apollo Group focuses ongiving in the areas of education, workforce readiness and sustainability. To learn more about the impact of these efforts, please visit www.csrreport.s.apollo.edu/.

About the National Park Foundation

You are the owner of 84 million acres of the world’s most treasured memorials, landscapes, ecosystems, and historic sites -- all protected in America’s more than 400 national parks. Chartered by Congress, the National Park Foundation is the official charity of America’s national parks. We work hand in hand with the National Park Service to connect you and all Americans to the parks, and to make sure that they are preserved for the generations who will follow. Join us in supporting your national parks -- this is your land. www.nationalparks.org

About University of Phoenix

University of Phoenix is constantly innovating to help students balance education and life in a rapidly changing world. Flexible schedules, challenging courses and interactive learning can help students pursue personal and career aspirations without putting their lives on hold. As the flagship university of Apollo Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: APOL), University of Phoenix serves a diverse student population, offering associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs from campuses and learning centers across the U.S. as well as online throughout the world. For more information, visit http://www.phoenix.edu.

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Did You Know?

Hikers in the Badlands Wilderness Area

Badlands National Park maintains an open backcountry policy for exploration of its rugged landscape. While the park has no formal backcountry permit or reservation system, hikers are advised to stop at the Ben Reifel Visitor Center for planning assistance, safety tips, directions, and regulations.